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Behind Brodeur



I watched the Coyotes/Devils game last night from all of ten feet behind Martin Brodeur’s back (and Bryzgalov’s in the second), standing in the zamboni doors with Stan (The Man, The Maven) Fischler.  I love that man, and watching from there, with him, was amazing.  Huge thank you to the great people at MSG+ for including me in the production of last nights broadcast.

Surprisingly big dude, actually

Even when I attend Coyotes games as a member of the media, I can’t handle sitting in the press box.  Honestly, I can’t fathom how anyone can give insightful game reviews from up there.  Not a dig to those that choose to, and are able to, I just can’t get a feel for the game if I’m not closer to the speed of it.

Sitting where I was, I could see Yandle make a look-off with his eyes before firing the puck at Lombardi’s stick.  I could see Mueller’s eyes down before he (luckily) beat Brodeur five-hole (who goes five-hole on a padstack?).  You can get a legitimate idea for who’s doing what out there, instead of watching for strictly x’s and o’s like you have to do from eagle perspective.  Maybe it just doesn’t work for my type of writing.

The point is, sitting back there was one of my favourite hockey-watching experiences ever. 

I was shocked to note two things I should’ve long-ago noted: Marty’s simple helmet design is really sharp, and for some reason, it’s never registered with me that Brodeur wears #30.  I bet if you’d asked me yesterday pre-game, I couldn’t have answered that correctly.  Embarrassing.

Watching his huge two-pad jammer on Upshall from mere feet away was surreal.


I still get super nervous before doing stuff like this, so cut me some slack:


So, no girls-in-skirts cleaning the ice, huh Phoenix?  It seems to me like this is the exact market they’d have that going on, so I asked the guy running the crew there what the deal was (ice crew also stands in zam gates – paid $8.50 an hour to have the best seats in the arena).

Here’s the end of a conversation I had with an unnamed staff member, explaining why the girls-in-skirts got outed for dudes-in-tracksuits:

 ”Girls are too unreliable.  They would call an hour before the game and bail out.”

“…Girls are too unreliable?”

“Well, the type that want to be displayed in skirts in an igloo are.”

“Ahhh, yep.”


John Tortorella has the exact personality you want your head coach to have, but I’m starting to think he might be a “work ethic” coach over a “systems” guy.  In translation, he’d be a great junior coach, but maybe not so much of an NHL one.


I had an awkward, hallway walk-by with Brodeur after the game.  Just him and I, going in opposite directions in a smallish hallway where you should probably at least acknowledge the other person.  I had roughly seven seconds to think of something clever to say to him once I saw him coming down the hall.

I nodded.


I tried to explain the player-ref on-ice relationship in an article for The Hockey News - It’s a tad long, but I think it includes the funniest thing I’ve done as a writer…. I convinced them to link the words “stubborn ECHL refs” to something awesome.  Enjoy.


22 Responses to “Behind Brodeur”
  1. Mike says:

    Good interview but Stan Fischler’s accent drives me bat$hit crazy!!

  2. Pete L says:

    JT, you did a very good job with the Maven. Loved the face when he called you a smart guy. It was a cross between confusion and surprise. As far as the Brodeur encounter, you can never go wrong with a head nod. Marty’s probably sitting around today thinking, “Wish I’d have come up with something clever to say to the kid!”

  3. ms.conduct says:

    Ohhh, so much to say.

    1. The THN piece was fantastic. One of my favorites. Definitely a slice of player life that you just can’t get any other way.
    2. I’m a little weak in the knees at your Marty exposure last night. To watch THAT guy from THAT close … FMD. That’s unreal. The hallway encounter? I’d probably have just cried. Marty F**king Brodeur. Shit. I gotta see that man play in person before it’s too late.
    3. You’ve inspired me to watch a little more Aeros action from down in the corner. I usually only do it when special goalies are in town, but it really does give you that “wind in your hair” feeling as guys blow by on the other side of the glass that you can’t get on press row. And like you, I don’t write the Xs and Os stuff so why do I need to see it all like that? A mix would be good.
    4. Is there a Lemon Law on FH trades because I think I may have a case with Selanne. Hmph.

  4. jtbourne says:

    Ha, Selanne, that old, fragile Fin. If my league did PIMS Backes would be leagues MVP, but I need that bastard to stop fighting and stay on the ice.
    I gotta ask… FMD? Im boggled by the internet acronyms I’m supposed to know.

  5. Char says:

    ROFL! Justin, you are such a dork. I mean that affectionately, mind you. My favorite hockey player in the world, Marc Savard, is the ultimate dork. So you’re in good company. ;-)

    And thanks for asking about FMD. I was wondering too.

  6. Karen From Rochester says:

    Justin, I’m glad you asked about FMD, otherwise I was gonna have to endure the ridicule of my 16yo when I asked HER what that meant! Great article on THN. Keep those coming, we love em!

  7. minnesotagirl71 says:

    Watching hockey from behind the net is the best! You can see the plays develop right in front of you. I can tell you which guys stick their tongue out when they are concentrating. You can see the look in their eyes as they focus on a guy they are going to hit. ( I know fans of other teams hate Clutterbuck – but his eyes turn into laser sights when he’s coming in for a hit.) I get to see about 15 games per season from six rows up behind the net. It’s fun to be that close to the game, but safely protected behind plexi! Took me several games to quit ducking when the puck slammed into the glass. Now I get to laugh at the people who duck!

  8. Will77 says:

    I gotta admit, I used to sport hate Brodeur. Not just cause he was in the Isles division, but I used to think “yeah, put me in net with Scott Stevens, Niedermayer, and the Devils trap system in front of me so all I see is shots from the boards and I’d win a whole lot of games too”. But man, he proved me wrong after the above three went away and he showed how amazing he is between the pipes. I also love the mask… if you didn’t know better you’d think he was a call up and the equipment guy went “eh F it, wear this”.

    I love me an angry Torts press conference. Give me a dozen F-bombs about how much your team “sucked” over “well, our forecheck wasn’t established blah blah blah” any day.

    The Ice girls convo was pure gold. Wonder what the Isles do right then, its always the same girls the whole season.

    Lastly, just want to say I truely hope “this writing thing” keeps working for you as it has to get you to the tops of the biz. We need a guy out there thats played the game and can write about it like you do. The eyes thing is a perfect example of that over the X’s and O’s

  9. PVeltkamp says:

    Awesome interview, and awesome THN article. I haven’t seen too many Family Guy clips linked on THN, matter of fact that is the first, so congrats on that too.

  10. Simone says:

    Bookmark this site for all your acronym needs,

  11. Sherry says:

    Justin, I thought you came off great in your interview! Your personality came thru in the little looks and inflections you had, and even tho’ you were nervous, you seemed pretty darn smooth to me. Good job! I think you have a great future in the written and spoken covereage of the sport.

    I sports hate Brodeur because I’m a Pens fan, but I have to say I was excited to see him play (and got more pics of him than anyone else) when I saw the Pens play the Devils in the Burgh on Oct 24th, 3 rows off the ice at the top of the circle (I usually sit much higher up, but since I’d travel across country to my old stomping gournds to see the Pens in person, I sprang for the “good seats”. I could not *believe* the speed and violence of the game at ice level…). Oh and the mask is pretty much the bomb.

    And speaking of my Pens, I need to mine some vintage Justin for this question. I’ve been reading how the boys “said what needed to be said” at the second intermission last night, how Billy stood up and talked and the guys followed… This is exactly the kind of thing I referred to before in my response to why chicks dig your column – what *is* said at those times? I gotta know, and you are just the guy to tell me (I know, “what’s said in the room, stays in the room – so, share generically if nec)! What exactly is the catalyst for change? This is the inside dope that I wonder about and that darws me to the players and the sport, so spill! :)

    It doesn’t take a genious to figure out that Fleury finally standing up for himself might have sparked things (and good on ya Flower! Not to mention the goaltending early in the third!), but it was so night and day how the boys dug in a battled in the 3rd, that I’d love to know the mechanism behind it (and why haven’t they done that already over the course of the recent losing spell?). Go ahead, text Billy and ask – and send him a few smiley faces from me. :)

  12. Neil says:

    No slack required my friend, great interview and you didn’t seem nervous.
    Loved your piece at THN, editors pick and most-read today, in addition to getting a very positive plug from today’s Puck Daddy. Well-deserved! I’ve read so much crappy reasoning about this issue that I thought I was done with it, but your article was nice to read. You and Bob McKenzie can pat yourselves on the back for restoring my faith in humanity, at least until I check out the newspapers today.
    Agree on Torts, seems like a Mike Keenan kind of guy where once he leaves, there will be a few “yeah, we didn’t really ever have a specific game-plan” comments from players.

  13. Sherry says:

    *draws* me to the players… Sheesh.

  14. Sherry says:

    Oh and, (just read it) excellent work on the THN piece – well done.

  15. garett says:

    great article in the hockey news J-Bo..i think it is the first and last time my name will make it in there..but you spelled it wrong..1 R and 2 Ts..ha..get it right

  16. Jake says:

    I remember by thinking – 1 Rat has 2 huge front Teeth = 1 r and 2 t’s. Sorry Bemmer, I didn’t write your name on your birth certificate.

  17. Pat says:

    Way to plug the Coyotes on air. I’m sure that wasn’t an attempt to get you back in their good graces. No….not an attempt at all. And it must have been sweet watching a game with someone like Fischler and to get the opportunity to pick his brain.
    Interesting article for THN. I think all in all you nailed the delicate nature of the player/ref relationship. Good work. I even laughed at the comparison of ECHL refs to donkeys. As a former donkey myself…….I get a kick out of your stories that make me remember what it was like in the exotic locations like Toledo, Bakersfield, Wheeling………

    PS – Ms. Conduct…..saw your boy play in Trenton last night. He looks bored at that level.

  18. John says:

    Interview with The Maven, what’s better than that? No need to get nervous down the line pal, you got the goods.

    I will share with you what a publicist told me when I had to do a number of on-camera interviews not too long ago for something unrelated to hockey. She said take your time in getting your point across, because you are the star of the segment, and viewers are interested in what YOU have to say, and they will wait to hear you say it. The first couple interviews I realized I was rushing my answers, and simply slowed down after that. It worked wonders.

    The publicist also told me to watch for excessive use of “fillers”. That would be an “uh”…”um”…”and uh”. Again, in the first couple spots i was tossing out an “uh” or “and uh” every five seconds. After that I simply forced myself to try to not use “uh”, “um” or “and uh”if I could help it. Again, it turned out to be very helpful.

    Just my two cents. Keep up the great work. The on-camera stuff is just all horseshit mechanics, you can learn it with your eyes closed.

  19. SDC says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that Brodeur gave you the you-don’t-exist jackass non-acknowledgement (because of him, not you).

    I was trying to think of a broken jaw Selanne comment that wouldn’t sound insensitive, and I couldn’t piece anything together. Your thoughts on it?

    Great work on the interview, man!

  20. Kerstin says:

    Wouldn’t the “What-do-you-say-when-you-meet-xxxxx” be worth another post?
    I mean the loudest fans become little kids that like to hide behind mommy’s legs when they actually meet “their” player off the ice and don’t know what to say… ;-)
    What were the strangest conversations you/your dad/Mr Gillies went through?

  21. ms.conduct says:

    “PS – Ms. Conduct…..saw your boy play in Trenton last night. He looks bored at that level.”"

    Awww, I’m jealous. Yeah, it’s definitely different down there in the Coast. It’s been interesting to compare to the A, as I’ve never watched ECHL before. Generally he sees a lot more rubber and better chances. But those Trenton games were pretty moderate with the shot count compared to what he’s been seeing.

    Then again, he’s got a pretty mellow way about him regardless. Kinda standing around and then BOOM he makes a save. It’s terrifying. I love it.

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